In another blemish on New York City’s troubled jail system, two Rikers Island correction officers and a cook accepted bribes from inmates to smuggle in contraband such as scalpels, synthetic marijuana and tobacco, officials said on Thursday.
The city employees were among 17 people, including six inmates, who have been indicted in three smuggling operations uncovered at Rikers since September. The indictments, which were made public on Thursday, were the result of a monthslong inquiry by the New York City Department of Investigation and the office of the Bronx district attorney, Darcel D. Clark. Mark G. Peters, the commissioner of the Investigation Department, called it “the largest contraband smuggling takedown in more than a decade at Rikers Island.”
Criticism of Rikers Island has intensified in recent years as a spate of slashings, stabbings and beatings among inmates and correction officers has highlighted what many see as a culture of violence and corruption at Rikers, the city’s main jail complex. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, and other critics have called for the closing of Rikers, which consists of nine operating jails that house a total of about 8,000 inmates.